Politics, Religion, and Trolling

Steer Clear!

The reality is, that the friends you socialize with i.e. dine-n-wine with; or the friends you socialize with online — they may have political views that may surprise/or shock you.

Well, will you continue to be friends with them, or will your turn your back on them? Don’t the wise often say, don’t discuss or argue about these matters? Not only could it turn into a no-win battle for either party, but you may well lose a friend.

I just saw a page ad pop up on Facebook. It also displayed which of my friends had ‘liked’ it. Hmm… never mind, I shan’t get swayed.

You may not wage the war, but…

You may not wage the war.
But… let’s not forget,
this world itself
is a battleground.
Each one fights
… for space,
… to find his place,
… or leave her trace.
In this world,
the attacker swings
from the right …
or will hurl at you
from the left;
or hit you
from the rear …
or swing a blow,
straight at
your face.
Over time,
Life teaches you,
my friend, to
be cautious.
Be prepared…
There’s little choice…
get trampled upon…
or, hold your ground.
What’s your choice?

~ Pictowrit

In Paris… meeting Mohanjeet!

On 12th October, just over two weeks ago, while strolling along Rue Saint-André des Arts, I suddenly saw this storefront that read, “Diwali”. I was delighted. No pun intended. It was still my third day on my first visit to Paris.  😉

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The bigger joy followed just moments later, when I met Mohanjeet! I was admiring the architectural details on the buildings of this delightfully narrow street, when a lady stopped me in my tracks, held my forearm, and asked, “Are you Indian?” I nodded in the affirmative. (Why would I deny a fact that’s written all over my desi face.) 🙂 I said, “Hello” with a broad smile I could not contain. The lady introduced herself, asked if I was in a rush to go somewhere… No, I wasn’t in any tearing hurry to get anywhere. I’d just got to this city a couple of days ago… and had many more to go. She said, “Then come with me, let’s have coffee, but first I have to go to the post office.” I followed her… we walked together to the post office, then to a café not far away – I remember it was Café Brasserie Le Danton at Boulevard Saint Germain. She asked if I would have a glass of wine. I preferred to have café at that hour. Glad I did — it was Lavazza, my everyday favorite. No sooner was l’addition du restaurant placed on the table — along with a bowl of chips, a glass of wine for my host, and a coffee for yours truly, Mohanjeet quickly put the bill in her pocket, saying she had invited me! Hmm… 🙂 Well, I learned some most interesting facets about her while we chatted. She was rather pleased to see I was with camera et al… and that I was traveling all on my own, immersed in the sights and sounds of this French city, which she seemed to have embraced as her home for almost 60 years! When she learned that I was writing a book – a biography – it brought on a smile. Soon I would learn why.

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She cajoled me to eat the chips from her bowl, and when one bowl was empty, she quickly called for another… obviously, a regular patron there. 🙂 It was getting close to 7 p.m. By now we had been together for a good hour or two. She said she owned a store not far from there and invited me to go with her. We walked back to 21 Rue Saint-Sulpice. Voilà, haute couture, that’s what the boutique was… Earthy colors, elegant styles, this was women’s fashion… classy, chic and a cut above much I’d seen in the past 15 years — garments worn by Indians in the US. All of it was her own creation! While she talked to her staff, my eyes took in all the pretty stuff. She said, “Go up, there’s more to look at up there.” I went up the spiral staircase… ooh la la… more beautiful pieces… Shortly after, she closed the shop, I walked her to her bus-stop, and she invited me to see her again, if time permitted. We met again a few days later. I invited her for dinner. We ate at Cafe Comptoir Tournon, a short walking distance from Odéon – Théâtre de l’Europe. It was indeed a unique experience. She shared some stories from her life – personal, and professional. By now – through a Google search – I had also learned that she had played tennis with Elizabeth Taylor, and that Hollywood stars from Jane Fonda to Cameron Diaz had worn her creations. Originally from Lahore, she had survived Partition, but had left India when she was 19. She had rubbed shoulders with the likes of Yves St Laurent, and her creations had splashed across Vogue, Bazaar and such… but what may be of interest to my friends here is that she also had lunch with renowned actors Raj Kapoor and Nargis in 1952, with personal autographs from them. That was in Los Angeles, when she was a student of Political Science and Literature at UCLA. 🙂 This store – since 1968 – the only active one now, was among 11 that she had owned in Paris! Once upon a time, Mohanjeet had even worked for The New York Times. Oh, wow…

There’s much I could write here… but this should suffice… I was very fortunate to meet such an interesting person… serendipity! A memory I will cherish, and which I doubt will fade anytime soon… Mohanjeet, please take care of yourself. 🙂 I look forward to meeting you again someday. When I knew not even a single soul in Paris until a few days ago, from out of nowhere, you held my arm, and spent time with me. Thank you, for reaching out…

The “Flying Rani”!

Gujarati? Catch the “Flying Rani” going Mumbai to Surat!

બાળપણ નું સુસ્મરણ

હોતું હશે!

(ભઈ તમે માનો કે ના માનો આ વાત હકીકત છે.)

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After reaching Navsari (pix above: Juna Thana), Surat is just minutes away… you get set to alight… with all your bags! 😉

મમ્મી: ઓ કે, હું taxi વાળા ને પૈસા ચૂકવું છું, તું કૂલી ને શોધ (ચિંતા નહિ કરતી, તું શોધે એ પેહલા એ તને શોધી કાઢશે)
હું : એ એ એ… આણે તો bag ઊંચકી એ લીધી!
મમ્મી: ઓ એની સાથે ભાવ પેહલા થી નક્કી કરજે, ભૂલતી નહિ … ઠીક છે, કંઈ નહિ.

મમ્મી (કૂલી ને): ઓ, કેટલા? કિતના લેગા?
કૂલી : ફિકર નહિ, આપ સે જ્યાદા નહિ લેગા … બસ, બીસ રૂપિયા.
મમ્મી: હેં!……. કેટલા રૂપિયા??
(કૂલી ને): તુમ કો ક્યા લગતા હૈ – હમ નયે હૈ ઇસ શેહેર મેં ! દસ રૂપિયે સે ઝ્યાદા નહિ દૂંગી
કૂલી: સત્રા
મમ્મી: નહિ, નહિ, ચલો, બારા બરાબર હૈ
ફૂલી: અરે ક્યા મેમસાબ તુમ ભી… અચ્છા પન્દ્રા
મમ્મી : ચલો છોડો — જાને દો. હમારી bag રક્ખો, તુમ દૂસરા ઘરાક શોધો

મમ્મી (અમને, બચ્ચા પાર્ટી ને): ચાલો, ચાલો, જલ્દી જલ્દી એક એક bag ઉઠાવો – નાની, મોટી, જે ઉંચકાય તે લો.
હું : મમ્મી, જલ્દી, પછી સીટ નહિ મળે!
મમ્મી (કૂલી ને): અલ્યા ચાલ, ચૌદ રૂપિયા નક્કી, ચાર bag ઉઠાવ – આખી berth પકડ, બારી સાથે!
કૂલી: ફિકર નકો કરા મેમસાબ
મમ્મી: છોકરાઓ, જલ્દી કરો, નહિ તો આ ભીડ માં કૂલી ગુમ ના થયી જાય!
હું : મમ્મી, કૂલી તો બહુ ફાસ્ટ જાય છે!

થોડેક આગળ ગયા, થોડી વાર પછી, થોભ્યા:

ફૂલી: મેમસાબ, ઇધર રુકો, bag કે પાસ, અભી સીટ પકડ કે આતા હું!
હું : ઓ…, કહાં જાતે હો? Train કહાં હૈ? Platform પર હજી આવી નથી ને!
ફૂલી: બેબી, અભી આતી હૈ train.
હું : તુમ કો કૈસે find કરેંગે?
કૂલી : એક રૂમાલ દો, ચાદર હૈ?
(મમ્મી પર્સ માંથી કાઢી, એમનો સ્કાર્ફ આપે છે કૂલી ને.) કૂલી સ્કાર્ફ લઇ ને ભીડ માં ફરી થી અલુપ્ત થયી ગયો!

મમ્મી : તમને બંને ને કહ્યું’તું જલ્દી તૈયાર થયી જાઓ, નહીતર આ ભીડ માં ભીંસાવું પડશે પણ સાંભળે કોણ! કેટલો Rush છે, હવે જઈશું ઉભા ઉભા ઠેઠ સુધી!

મમ્મી (અકળાઈ ને) એક બીજા યાત્રી ને: ઓઓઓ, વગાડી દીધી મેટલ ની bag. કચડી નાખ્યો મારો પગ! જોઈ ને તો ચાલ!

હું: આવતી vacation માં મારે train માં ક્યાંય જવું નથી! I don’t want to go on the train anywhere! What a nightmare!
મમ્મી : ઓ, ચાલો, ચાલો જલ્દી જલ્દી, ગાડી આવી ગઈ!
હું: ઓ, પણ bags નું ધ્યાન કોણ રાખશે
મમ્મી : ચલ એક જણ અહીંયા ઉભા રહો, તું ઉભી રેહ… ઓ લે, જો, ફૂલી એ હાથ દેખાડ્યો… જગા મળી ગયી લાગે છે.
મમ્મી (કૂલી ને બૂમ પાઈ ને કેહ છે): ચલ, આવી ને bag ઉઠાવ!
કૂલી: Bag આપ લાઓ, નહી તો seat ગેલી!
મમ્મી : અલ્યા અડધું કામ અમે જાતે કરી લઈએ તો ચૌદ રૂપિયા તને શું કરવા આપીએ!
કૂલી (હસતાં હસતાં): મેમસાબ, બગા તુમી, seat મસ્ત હૈ… પાંચ રૂપિયા ઔર દેના બક્ષીશ!
મમ્મી: ઘ્યા હે ચૌદ રૂપિયા, નહિ તો એ પણ નહિ આપું!
હું : મમ્મી, જલ્દી, આપી દો એને જે જોઈએ એ, ચાલો, let’s settle in, please!
હજી તો બેઠાં નથી, અને કોઈક બીજા યાત્રી આવ્યા:
યાત્રી : Excuse me, પણ તમે મારી seat પર બેઠાં છો! હું ફક્ત પાણી ની bottle ભરવા નીચે ઊતર્યો હતો.
મમ્મી (જરા અકળાઈ ને): ઓ હો, શૂ વાત કરો છો! હમણાં જ મેં પેલા કૂલી ને પૈસા ચૂકવ્યા seat માટે!
અચ્છા ઠીક છે, બધા જરા જરા ખસો, થોડું “adjustment” કરીએ… આ છે તો એક unreserved compartment ને! ફક્ત સાઢા ચાર કલ્લાક ની જ journey – મુંબઈ થી સૂરત સુધી ની!
યાત્રી (અડધું મનમાં બબડતા): ક્યા થી આવી જાય છે આ લોકો!
મમ્મી: મને કૈંક કહ્યું તમે?

સીટી વાગી, લીલો ઝંડો ફર્કાયો, ગાડી ની છુક-છુક શરુ થયી. ધીમે થી વેગ વધવા માંડી… પળ માં જ platform પર થી ગાડી બાહર ખુલા માં જતી રેહવાની…
મમ્મી (અકળાયલા સાદે): જો, હજુ તારા પપ્પા આવ્યા નહિ દુકાને થી… આવજો કેહવા અને મળવા!
(દૂર, પપ્પા દોડતા આવતા દેખાયા – બારી માંથી અમે આવજો કર્યું, એમના હાથ માં થી નાસ્તા નું packet જલ્દી થી લઇ લીધું! અમને, ખાસ કરી ને
મમ્મી ને હાશ થયી… મને મન માં થયું, “કદાચ પપ્પા ને પણ હાશ થયી! એમનું vacation પણ શરું થયું “) 😉
બીજા યાત્રીઓ ને પણ હાશ થયી…

યાત્રી (મમ્મી ને): ક્યાં સુધી જવાના, ક્યાં ઉતરવાના?
મમ્મી: last station… સૂરત! અને… તમે?
યાત્રી : હું પણ
મમ્મી: ચાલો, સરસ, થોડી company રેહશે 🙂

અર્ધ-સ્મિત સમેટ યાત્રી અને મમ્મી ની અકળામણ સેહજ વિલીન થયી.

મમ્મી (મારા નાજુક, baby ears માં ધીમે થી બોલ્યાં): સરખી tight બેસજે, જો, કોઈ ધક્કો મારી તને ખસેડી ના દે!
હું (મન માં વિચારતા): હાશ, જગ્યા મળી એટલું જ બસ છે… પાંચ મિનીટ પેહલા જ તો seat ના ફાંફા હતાં, અને station પણ હાંફળા-ફાંફળા પોન્હ્ચા’તા!
મમ્મી: હાશ, હવે જરા નિરાંતે શ્વાસ લેવાશે!
થોડીક જ પળો થયી હશે, ત્યાં તો, bag માંથી Pear કાઢી, purse માં થી ચપ્પુ ખેંચી, મોઢાં પર સ્મિત વેરી ને બાજુ માં બેઠેલા નૌપરિચિત યાત્રી ને મમ્મી એ પૂછ્યું, “Care to Share?”

Had trouble finding followers?

That’s the trouble… why do we even think of this as trouble. Are we Pied Pipers driving the art of writing to its death?

Those who truly think independently, don’t quite care about a fan following. The real independent thinkers and philosophers wrote their ideas or expressed them. Because they made sense we read about such people, read their books, or follow their ideas, believe in their philosophies, or ponder over their thoughts.

Writing can be triggered by something you saw, read, or experienced… anything could serve as a stimulus. The idea about having platforms like wordpress, or twitter or blogspot or even facebook… if each of us did our own thing, write our own ‘think’, create content that we actually believe in, it would be so much more fun than just circulating ‘forwards’ from hotmail to gmail, or worse, re-posting it as your own content (aka plagiarizing).

How much of all that we read, or is written is truly meaningful? What I write today on my blog (web log i.e. my diary) here, will the words sound dated five years from today, or five months away, or say in five days? Recall, blogs first started out as digital diaries that you could revisit someday. These diaries were personal, not items and writings that others could pry into. If someone laid even a little finger on it, leave alone leaf through its pages, the diarist would be hopping mad. But a page in a diary gives a glimpse of the person who wrote the words. It may give a hint into a person’s character. What interests me are human relations, how the mind thinks… why it thinks the way it does, what transpired in the person’s life to bring about such thoughts? You can weave an entire story… stories are telling. We will forget products but if there was a story around it, we tend to remember it more.

Today, though, many of us tend to clamor for a large fan following. Just the other day, I recall either tweeting (or blogging) about why anyone should care how many followers I have on Twitter, or how many tweets I posted… or for that matter should it matter to anyone but myself how many folks I follow? What does matter is whether or not my content, words, tweets, chirps hold meaning, have some interesting take or twist on a subject that I read, or found interesting. e.g. on Twitter, I’d be more eager to see a tab that displays counts of re-tweets, or favorite-d strings of 140 characters. But all we do is post link after link without giving our take on it, without expressing our views or what it was that piqued our interest, or held your attention if even for just a moment. We’re in such a grand rush to move to the next subject… all in a hurry, rushing to nowhere in particular.

So here’s what I believe… you can create your own content, or you can curate content that others have created. Yeah, someone will likely turn around and say this is jargon, old hat, content curation is a term used for years now. But my point is, even if it’s been used for years, have we all learned how to do it? Whether as companies, or as individuals, how succinctly can we summarize what we read and present it in a coherent, or more interesting manner, or more pertinently, can we add our two cents to it?

Every platform that is built – either as an app or web tool – is sort of latched on to by marketing departments to promote their brands, products etc. What started off as a space for ‘you, me  and us types of individuals’ now turns into an overcrowded platform used by professional corporate bloggers, content providers, content curators. There’s just so much information out there about everything and nothing. If there’s any particular topic or subject of interest, sift through it to find what interests you, present your views, and create a fabric that appears interesting when you look at it as a whole. If it is linear it won’t be quite interesting, but add dimension, give it depth, add color, bring in elements to enhance the entire picture. But as in any picture or photograph, if there’s a singular focus it will appeal to many. Some may like the picture for the color, others may enjoy it for its texture, but most will enjoy it as a whole, unable to quite pinpoint what it was they liked about it, nevertheless they do like it. Well, in a nutshell, that’s what I think is the purpose of content creation, and content curation.

Hah! Who fooled me?

Yeah, I got fooled… not on All Fool’s day, not today, nor yesterday.

Everyday, for the past  eight months, and especially over the last few days, I’ve looked at some archives of my photos! I’ve searched, and searched, and searched deeper for pictures I would like the world to see… even if they aren’t exactly the Ansel Adams kind. How can they be so, ’cause I’m an amateur photographer, besides, I rarely take b/w photos. There are some awesome photos I’ve seen here on wordpress (bloggers, those who have awesome pix, I’ve paid you a compliment each, right?) though. I could have looked on Flickr, or Shutterbug, or browsed through Getty images, but, wait, this post is not about photography, (sorry, I digressed) it’s about who fooled me, recall? 😉 😦

But why did the subject of photos creep into my writing here? Is it because I’m not focused? 😉 You see that, right? But of course, you do… is it in my photographs, or in my writing, or in my thoughts! It’s I who cannot see it… umm, is it ‘I’ or should it be ‘me’? Which of these pronouns should it be?  Do I need to go back to high school grammar? (‘I’, I know that for certain) 😉 Whoa… and I thought I could take up some professional writing again. But does it really matter? Grammar seems to be of such little consequence in these days of flash messaging, symbols, and sextext. Also, with each passing year, there are numerous additions to the English vocabulary… ever looked at ‘urban dictionary’ (does any kid refer to The Oxford English Dictionary anymore, or, to Webster’s Dictionary, for that matter)? Who knows if grammar – as we knew it, once upon a time (may have to peek at the Way Back Machine),  is also morphing  into a form that may soon be hard to recognize! In a world that’s spinning on speed reading, the length of my text thus far, is already way too long…

Okay, so my point is that, to speak to, or to grab the attention of anyone, marketers must speak the language of their target audience. Now, if I want to capture the 15-25 teen-adult attention through my word-net, shouldn’t my lingo match theirs? (Yeah, yeah, would have to keep my wits together for that). How do I do that? How should I hold the attention of that  ‘youth’ out there? Stay focused, I say to myself. But if parents – are finding it hard to speak to their own kids (that is when they do get to speak to them), how is the marketer to succeed in grabbing attention, leave alone  retaining youth attention. How does the copywriter succeed?

Billions of dollars worth of goods and services are being marketed across the globe, and a larger chunk of this population internationally constitutes the Boomerang generation, more simply referred to as Gen Y of the new millennium… or call it the youth bulge. As a business content writer, it is key to be able to write copy that is keyword heavy and search friendly. About the tricks of the search marketing trade I will revisit some other time. Nevertheless, I consider this a diabolical situation. To write well for business, one needs to be experienced enough. If you’re experienced, chances are you’re already too old to speak the parlance of this crowd (not coterie) aka Peter Pan. See the irony?

Well, so… in an effort to start again with some meaningful writing, albeit random, I reverted to this space on words-n-motion. But the words were hard to find. I took the shortcut and delved into photo archives instead, plugged in a few descriptive words (with a nudge from the blog-platform designer/architects), and voilà… I had my blog going again… revived. Yes, this fooled nobody, but yours truly! I fooled me… grammar begone, the joke’s on me!  But before I go…  will hum along while I listen to Robin (r.i.p.) 😦  as he sings ‘I started a joke’ (Bee Gees).

An Indian’s reflection of India, post “Independence Day reflections from London”!

Vir Sanghvi_Counter Point_13th August 2010
Independence Day Reflections from london

Vir Sanghvi’s Counter Point article, entitled, Independence Day reflections from London”, which he posted on 13 Aug 2010 08:47 p.m., seems to be floating in cyberspace as a ‘forward’ re-titled, “The new look at India by the arrogant British”!  In the past two months, it has appeared twice in my Inbox – and perhaps it won’t be the last time, am quite certain. Well, the first time around, although I was peeved, and while I pondered over the writing, I too, in turn, just forwarded it to some folks on my contact list. However, this morning, here’s what I wrote back to my India-based friend who sent it to me…

“When I read it a couple of months back, I said to myself… this is the same 350 year-old view of India when the Brits’ greedy eyes saw the wealth in India, and wanted it for grabs… just as they did in other ‘Commonwealth’ nations across the globe. Indians were gullible then too, and were taken in easily by all the sweetness and sweet talk… only to suffer, for centuries that followed!

Again, what amazes me is that Vir Sanghvi speaks only to (and of) the elite few of India… what “effortless rise of India” is he talking about? That too, in “just less than two decades”! He has blindfolded himself to the fact that millions of Indians have toiled with their blood, sweat, and their lives, for several decades (and centuries)… and they continue to do so… with little benefit for themselves! The growth he refers to as being “just short of miraculous” is ‘the lopsided, convenient, good, warm, fuzzy feeling’ sort of view that such speakers-publishers-editors provide; sweeping under the carpet, and totally disregarding the fact that even tiny little nations such as Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Philippines, and even Thailand have achieved way more in just two decades; we won’t even mention China (since it’s large), although we’re aware that they, notwithstanding all their inherent evils, are giving the US and the world a run for their money!

Yeah, one can argue that why is it that I – who escaped the woes of India – am so vehemently deriding Vir-speak. Well, that’s because I do not belong to the elite 1%; I toiled in India, but lived under conditions just a wee bit better than those of the slum-dwellers. Despite my hard work, the basic necessities such as a clean shelter, clean water, & hygienic living conditions were outside my reach. When I stepped on the street, despite paying my taxes and dues, I still had to cope with ‘the system’. It was not easy for me, not then, and not now if I opted to return and live there. More than 3/4 of my life I’ve lived in India, and have every right to feel the way I do today. Although I live in North America, it has never been ‘home’ for me. Ironically, was my ‘home’ i.e. India, ever comfortable for me? Encountering gender discrimination, and class discrimination, I lived for the better part of my life there, struggling (and yes, I’m aware, I wasn’t alone in it… millions of others suffered then, as they do now). Even today, be it in England, the US, or in India… only those with money have a voice!

Vir Sanghvi has that voice that we’re listening to, since he has wealth ( it’s a safe assumption), he’s always been among those elite few… not without it could he have had the luxury and ‘good fortune’ of a Mayo College education, not to mention Oxford! The rest usually follows. Money attracts money, as well as the moneybags! The point of all this is not that I’m envious of his good fortune, or of his successful career thus far, nor of his fame! He’s entitled to his opinion, his fame and fortune… just as that poor boy was, from Slumdog Millionnaire, whose fortune changed, making it his turning-point!

Read between the lines, and it appears that Vir Sanghvi is more than secretly (and openly) pleased, that now the West looks up at India (but note that he does not say ‘Indians’), and that they’re sucking up to India. But hey, say if the West did not verbalize their changed opinion of India, would Vir Sanghvi truly believe that India has made this ‘miraculous’ progress? It’s almost as though even today, India needs recognition from the West; the West must ratify India’s progress, without which Indians will not believe it one way or another. But what do the GDP numbers say? How do they compare to those of similar nations whose progress was impeded in the past, and yet, in the last 3-4 decades those very nations have galloped away to glory! What do health figures speak? Is India anywhere close to the ‘finishing line’?  Has India arrived? Soon, there will be yet another round of ‘forwards’ – patting one’s own back for say e.g. Aryabhatta’s role in math; or Sushruta… India’s very own… father of surgery, from past centuries! Just as Vir Sanghvi sings praises, and refers to ‘mark of quality in such areas as computer software’! Isn’t that an ignoramous statement? Where is India’s equal to Google or Apple? No doubt, India is great at leap-frogging into a new era e.g. no phone to cellphone for even roadside vendors! Of course, ‘outsourcing’ – the buzzword of India’s first decade in the 21st century. Innovation and quality products still rise from nations far from India!

India has plenty… harnessing that potential is the challenge. Valuing what is in hand, unleashing the indigenous potential, and recognizing it from within, should be elemental.

Do check the following links, and then compare the data to similar data for other nations.

http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INDIAEXTN/Resources/Reports-Publications/IndiaEconomicUpdate-September2011.pdf

http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/EASTASIAPACIFICEXT/KOREAEXTN/0,,menuPK:324651~pagePK:141159~piPK:141110~theSitePK:324645,00.html

http://www.worldbank.or.th/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/EASTASIAPACIFICEXT/THAILANDEXTN/0,,contentMDK:20205569~menuPK:333304~pagePK:1497618~piPK:217854~theSitePK:333296,00.html

http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/philippines

Check others, if you are interested… or, have time… remember, we are not the 1%… we have to work… words alone are pointless!”

It’s not “Gawd”… open your jaw wide to say, “God”!

Or, again, it’s not “Dawg“, but a jaw-wide-open “Dog”! Again? O, Gawd! Oops, sorry, Oh, God!

A long time ago, Hima Devi – a graduate of Trinity College, England, taught drama to kids at ‘elite’ schools in Mumbai; she also trained them for ‘elocution’, improving their pronunciation, diction, grammar, reading skills, etc. While reading Sam Roberts’ Unlearning to Tawk like a New Yorker, I was transported back in time, into my classroom at middle-school.  Appalled by our diction then, Hima Devi’s rasp cut through our reading session. Her outburst shocked us… a bunch of 24 kids. We were rather shaken by her voice as it jarred on our (then tender) ears; peeking through her smoker’s ‘voice-box’, her anger seemed magnified even further.

[Adding references to “Hima Kala Kendra” after a search in January 2016! ]

Hima1

Hima 2

Of course, after all these years, I searched for references to Hima Devi on the internet. I think she was quite a lady… in a class of her own… very elegantly turned out, always! My search lead me to this 30th anniversary issue of India Today.

Bhanu Athaiya

It seems that Bhanu Athaiya, costume-designer, and winner of the Academy Award for ‘Gandhi‘ (Richard Attenborough’s 1982 film), once lived with Hima Devi. Hmm… now that’s interesting. I would read the article, “Lost and Found”  in India Today – July 03, 2006 issue.

This issue of India’s # 1 magazine at one point, has another interesting Cover Story, “Golden Moments”, and as used to be the case when I read this magazine fairly regularly, several other facts and figures, which make interesting reading. However, now India Today seems to sport a new look; I wonder if it continues to lead news stories, or if it follows the media maxims of our new era. Ouch.. tweet, tweet!

Well, after all this, I’m still searching for more information on Hima Devi… Amazingly, in cyberspace, there’s so little information available about someone who contributed so much to the theater world. Furthermore, towards grooming school-going kids to enable them speak with finesse… an attribute that often defines an individual’s persona!

But, hey, for all Hima Devi fans, here’s a photo, courtesy Bruce Bayley of UK… how could I possibly forget to mention that  Hima Devi, besides being a theater doyen, also expressed herself through dance!

Shrimati Hima Devi

Thank you, Mr Bayley, and I do hope you will not take offense to this reference. 🙂

Fact checking by media… a fallacy!

Once upon a time, fact-checking, by journalists and reporters of merit, prior to publishing a story, was indeed a fact… but today, sadly, this fact is reduced to an appalling fallacy.

Look all around and what do you see on the news through television, or what we read even in the ‘ostensibly respectable’ press? We see either half-truths, or listen to blatant lies and read quotes that are more like ‘misquotes’!

In a culture where ‘rumors’ are forwarded as ‘truths’ at the push of a few buttons on a keyboard by newbie computer-literates, even ‘seriously professional’ media men – and women – are taking the easy way out. Cut-paste of images using a few photo-editing tools — to appear cool, or catty —  is no longer just fun ‘n’ games… it’s HUGE money-spinning business… scary, if you ask me!

Monetary value aside, at the stroke of a pen (or with the push on a few buttons), the media now topples governments. No, this was not unheard of even in a past era; indeed, the media has always wielded that kind of power. However, somehow, the sheer abuse of technology by lazy, hasty, and greedy reporters has wreaked a different sort of havoc in the world today.

The most powerful media – without doubt – is in the west. The rest of the world tends to emulate the west. Where will it all end, that’s if the end’s not already here? But have we, the people, lost all sense of reasoning? Are our minds now so warped that we are unable to see right from wrong? Is ‘discerning’ out of our dictionaries? Is it simply that the media now controls our individual minds (as opposed to ‘collective thinking’ which leads to superficial thinking) as well? Whom can we trust? Who should we believe? Is there true leadership (a guide) today? Or must we live in a make-believe world with warped values shaped by a manipulative media?

I’m sorry, these thoughts often plague me, but Thomas L. Freidman’s op-ed column in The New York Times… “Too Good to Check” triggered this post.

Somehow, I also recall the three apparitions (witches) telling Macbeth only half-truths… What happened eventually? Doom!

Pay-as-you-throw… Tax on Trash!

Not yet here in the US, but could soon be, if local governments take cue from the UK. From some of the comments, it appears that even in the US some form of tax is levied on different types of garbage – recycling, organic yard trash.

Apparently, you cannot trust your neighbors… some fear that the neighbors will throw their rubbish in your bin… some thought to sleep over, eh!

One can die, debating this issue, or one can let the issue die… an unnatural death, because the fact remains that tax on trash will soon be fact… such things just don’t go away.

If you’re interested, you may read about this issue here, or watch the video here.